A grain of rice is a representation of the pot
The automatic door opened to allow me inside. The chillness of the aircon was evident on my skin. My olfactory senses couldn’t help but notice the scent of new fabric and leather from the display car. As I walked to the well of the reception, all three staff stood up to welcome me. By my standard, this reception seemed overstaffed! The lady was sandwiched between two gentlemen on the back of a neatly crafted welcome desk with the Honda logo etched on a piece of glass that was placed at the centre of the wood table. The lady took the effort to eject herself from behind the desk and chose to make her way towards me. She welcomed me to their Honda dealership. Her name badge read – Saritha. Saritha was neatly dressed in grey pin-stripped kameez and white salwar. She spoke with clarity in Tamil. I requested her to guide me to the accessory department. Saritha weaved through one of the glass-walled offices that had no door at entry and exit. I followed her like the pug in Vodafone ad. The staff in the accessory section were away for lunch. After checking on the phone with her colleague, she requested me to wait for an hour. With a grin mixed with a grimace, I told her I was leaving the city on a business trip and would prefer it to be sooner. She requested me to take a seat in the waiting room and promised to do something.
I moved from the browsing centre to my home, about 50 metres, like a carcass being dragged along the ground by a rope tied to a horse carriage. The unconscious conspicuousness meant I meekly knocked on the door instead of ringing the bell. To my surprise, my mom answered the knock quicker than she would have had I rung the bell. She looked jubilant. I tactfully avoided eye contact, planted the lifeless body on the couch that had my back facing my mom and stared outside the window. My eyes stopped at the leaves of the neem tree. The sharp, zoomed focus on the neem leaves gave way to blur, wide image. That included the brown of the branches. The gentle shaking of the branches and the neem leaves in response to the breeze moved me into a state of unresourceful trance. My mom’s continual inquiry faded in the background as I went on a mental sojourn. The narrative consisted of many, many parts. Had I recorded the sound waves, it would have been an audio compilation of limiting beliefs! It went from how the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India was conspiring to fail me to not qualifying as an accountant until 40 as predicted by a “wise” relative.
Instead of sitting on the couch, I was looking, feeling and sniffing the various display cars. The smell of leather from close range is magical. The smooth, soft feel of leather wrap around the steering wheel reminded me of my previous life in the Middle East. I moved my hands around along the steering wheel without actually steering it. I was approached by a sales staff to check on my requirement; I politely told them I was performing the sniff test! Saritha was busy making calls on her mobile phone. After ten minutes she showed up next to the silver coloured WRV in which I was time-travelling! She had the product I was seeking in her hand.
I noticed Saritha’s discomfort with the credit card machine. The voice inside told me this might not be her forte. Instead of assuming, I slowed myself down. My curiosity meter went up. I began a conversation with Saritha while helping myself on the card machine. She was part of the Sales team. She was filling in at the front office. While dealing with me, she was filling in for her colleagues in the Accessories section. In NLP, you know that the way people and organisation do the little things is the way they do the more significant things. We are slaves of our patterns. I noticed an empowering behaviour where Saritha (staff on the shop floor) is displaying leadership and taking decisions in-the-moment. And I observed this pattern at the entry point with the way the security staff handled lack of parking spots. They allowed me to park at the entrance of the showroom.
Like the saying goes in Tamil, a grain of rice is enough to decode the quality of the entire pot. I wanted to speak to the leadership to find out their secret sauce. To me, Saritha is an example of:
1. what it is to lead irrespective of your place in the organisation structure.
2. how to be congruent in unfamiliar circumstances.
4. A-level game even when no one is watching or expecting (her immediate manager was away at that moment)
Speaking to the CEO of this dealership, I narrated my experience and what I noticed about their culture. I got an insight into his style of leadership. He told me that the Board had recently given him the reins of a different brand’s car dealership. I wasn’t surprised. An organisation’s behaviour and culture are never by accident. He requested me to pay a visit to the other brand too and share my feedback.
Later that day, Saritha sent the invoice on Whatsapp. Transaction completed. My relationship with this dealership had just begun.
What is a ‘grain of rice’ that you notice in your environment that is a representation of the ‘pot’?
PS: I went back a month later to this dealership for my car’s routine maintenance. The service desk assistant and service representative was displaying empowering behaviour. Incidentally, on that day the dealership was under-going inspection/audit from Honda’s head office.